Since the franchise’s 27th World Series title was captured in 2009, October has been unkind to the New York Yankees in their quest for number 28. With an unusually quiet offseason, the organizational philosophy of the team has led them to a payroll heading toward sub-$200 million.
With spring training up and running, here are some questions the Bronx Bombers face going forward to improve their prospects this season.
Who will fill out the end of the rotation?
The first three in the Yanks’ rotation are locks, with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte. Phil Hughes was likely to be the fourth starter, but his recent back injury leaves his status in doubt.
Beyond Hughes, there appears to be one spot left for two contenders – David Phelps and Ivan Nova. Depending on what happens between the two, it’ll be interesting to see what the team has planned for the starter on the outside looking in. The Yankees see both as starters, meaning the odd man out would probably head to the Triple-A affiliate in Scranton. At Scranton, either Nova or Phelps could stay on a regular rotation to be stretched out and ready in case one of the Yankee starters gets injured. Phelps primarily is sought after out of the bullpen, so most likely the Yanks will retain him as a long man. Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Nova and Phelps should begin the season with Hughes ousted because of his disk setback. Will the Yankees look into the remaining free agent pool to shore up the rotation? – Kyle Lohse anyone?
What will the lineup look?
Considering Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki, the three of them will be sandwiched in the lineup, as in Ichiro 9, Gardner 1, Jeter 2, or Gardner 9, Jeter 1, Ichiro 2. For each of these scenarios, it may depend on whether a lefty or righty is starting. Against RHs, Gardner or Ichiro could lead off, with Jeter leading off against lefties. Besides the rotation of the trio, the new acquisitions Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner look to replace the losses of Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez while supplementing Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Chris Stewart/Francisco Cervelli/Austin Romine in the batting order.
What does the recent PED scandal mean for A-Rod?
Having his name on a list tied to a Miami drug clinic proves nothing. However, for Alex Rodriguez, these days if you’re a pro athlete the Bosch list is not something you want your name to be attached to. More information or evidence is needed before judgment and public condemnation is placed over something that we already know from A-Rod’s past.
Fans may want the Yankees to move on from Rodriguez’s albatross of a contract, but there is not a plausible way for the Yankees to void the mega contact and take their chances at a settlement in court for less than he’s owed. Do you really see any scenario in which A-Rod would agree to take a penny less than the Yankees owe him for the next half-decade?